One of my favorite things about Christmas has to be the spark it ignites in people’s hearts toward charitable giving. Young and old alike agree on this point: It’s a greater blessing to give than to receive. And Christmas allows us to do that in a variety of ways.
When my kids were small, they wanted to put money in the Salvation Army bucket—not just once, but every time we passed by one. I decided that if I didn’t want to go broke, I’d better get a roll of quarters at the bank. That way, instead of getting stuck having to relinquish my last $20 bill, I could be a hero each time: going in the store, exiting with a cart full of groceries, running in to grab that elusive gallon of milk. They loved dropping in their respective quarters and being rewarded when the attendant rang the bell.
Fast forward a few years—now those tots have morphed into teens. Instead of quarters in the Salvation Army bucket, they’re involved in feeding the homeless, rebuilding homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina, serving at a VBS in Mexico or sitting by the bedside of young AIDS patients in South Africa. But there’s still much to be done at home. In our affluent community, we still see many who struggle financially. To that end, I love Angel Tree. Angel Tree is a faith-based organization that seeks to give children, whose parent(s) are incarcerated, an opportunity to enjoy Christmas. The national organization partners with local churches to make needs known to individual members. These folks then shop or provide parties for the underprivileged children.
This amazing ministry allows us to share the love of Christ by ministering to an often-overlooked demographic, families of prisoners. Imagine the fear, uncertainty and loneliness inherent in such a situation. Then compound that by the glitz and glitter of the holiday season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can bring joy and a momentary excitement to children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a parent. By purchasing gifts or having parties for needy kids, we offer them a little hope during the Christmas season. Plus, it teaches our own children the importance of giving.
Check with your church. If it's not already involved, maybe you could step up to lead. Visit www.AngelTree.org for more information.